A key difference between people who have tremendous impact and those who don’t is command of language. As I write this, numerous examples of poor communicators leap to mind blotting out the image of those few who are exceptionally skilled. Lately I’ve seen a number of people who:
- Circle the airstrip but never land their point
- Bury important information in the unimportant
- Provide voluminous context
- Insist that they review their thought process with others
I don’t need to know how to fly a plane, just what time to show up at the airport. Yet, some persist in telling us everything they know about planes when we just want to go to New York. Some note their rambling, tangential forays or what they see as admirable knowledge, as though this awareness is worthy of praise.
A Chief Executive Officer of a very large company did me a great favor when, at our second meeting, he said, “I want bluff.” I said, “You want me to bluff you?” “No”, he said, “I want the Bottom Line Up Front. Then we’ll talk about the details as necessary.” I loved it! Our meetings were short and effective. Many of my clients tell me that my directness is something they desperately need and almost never get.
My observation is that many people don’t grasp the extent to which their communication habits impact others, for good or ill. Some who talk a great deal say say “I can’t help it” or “it helps me think”. Notice that both responses are self-focused. Great communicators think about what others need to know , not just what they want to say. They certainly use their own talent and style though work to shape it over time.
Here are three characteristics I’ve noted in powerful communicators. Emulating these will make you able to reach the stratosphere and land with grace. They use:
- Finely calibrated instruments to maintain acute and real-time awareness.
- Altitude-Memorable metaphors and analogies to illuminate, simplify and animate.
- Attitude-positive emotion and infectious enthusiasm.
Circling for a landing too long is inefficient at a minimum and disastrous if you run out of fuel. Too much baggage adds weight and increases drag. I could go on and on, but will land this one here.